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iamthemob's avatar

Have you ever been a bigot without knowing it?

Asked by iamthemob (17147points) September 8th, 2010

Of course, you have to really know to truly be one. But I, for one, have been in the situation where I realized I could be perceived as one without intending it. For years, I freely tossed around the word “gyp” saying “You got gypped” and such other phrases. A while ago I actually saw the word written out. I had always pictured it as “jip.” I asked a friend “Wait, is that a derogatory term related to GYPSIES!?” and was told yes. When I asked why he never said anything, he told me that he knew I didn’t mean anything by it.

But what about someone who didn’t know me? I was wondering if anyone had any similar situations, how they discovered what they were doing, and whether and how they think someone should have told them sooner.

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29 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Yes, I have caught myself having bigoted moments. Fewer as I get older and more aware.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

If living a full life is the goal, then everything, including bigotry, must at least be some small part of the mix.

Though I would never have intentionally included bigotry as part of the original recipe, I must admit, it’s definitely in me. Perhaps adding a pinch more patience, a skosh of empathy, and a dash of humility might dilute the amount of bigotry that so often rises to spoil my punch.

janbb's avatar

I’m sure I have inadvertently made bigoted or prejudiced remarks in the past; at this point, I am more aware and rarely say anything. But I do catch myself having prejudicial thoughts at times and it pisses the hell out of me.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’ve said “gypped” in the past as well. I never related it to Gypsies though (and I’m really glad I haven’t said it in a long time). There are probably other phrases I’ve said unintentionally. Once someone points out something, I make a conscious effort not to do it anymore (as I will now do with gypped).

Austinlad's avatar

Going by the basic definition of “bigot,” which when stripped of inflammatory adjectives basically means “one who displays intolerance,” I find it difficult to believe that I or anyone I’ve ever known didn’t at one time or another display a bigoted attitude toward an idea, person or perceived enemy. We can only hope that more of us than not are wise enough to recognize that behavior in ourselves and rise above it.

ratboy's avatar

It’s very likely that I still am.

nebule's avatar

I don’t think bigot is a word I would ever associate myself with, but maybe other people might think otherwise…although I can’t think of a situation in which they might… hmmm

iamthemob's avatar

@Seaofclouds

I know right? And it’s only because I say it written out…

iamthemob's avatar

@ratboy, @lynneblundell, @Austinlad -

If you were, how would you like to be told? As soon as possible? Public or private? And if in private, how does that help if people were hearing you in public?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Here is an example that ends up in a twist. I received a call one day about one of the workshop trainers who reported to me. The participant said that the trainer said something that was offensive and explained the situation. I apologized on her behalf, as well as the company’s. Not much thought was given to it as she has always been very professional. When the second call came in on the same incident, a conversation between us needed to take place.

Once she was back in town, we met privately and discussed it. I asked her if she had used the term to Jew someone down regarding hotel rates. And indeed she had. When I explained what that meant, she was mortified. Apparently, it was a term that she had heard from family members all of her life and never considered where it came from.

The twist was that I didn’t initially believe she used the term because she is black. I assumed that being a minority, she would be more sensitive to racial and religious slurs. We were both guilty, but at least she can claim a valid reason. I have no excuse except stupidity.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I had family members that used that term as well when I was younger. They are all very elderly or have passed away now.

iamthemob's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer

I love that example. I’m of the mind that you need no excuse though, because in the end you addressed it appropriately. Sure, you thought that because the trainer was a minority she didn’t use the slur…but that didn’t stop you from addressing her. HAD it, then you would need an excuse.

We all have thoughts or assumptions we’re not proud of. My concern is when I am saying something that is understood by others in the opposite manner of how I generally think…and no one tells me…

nebule's avatar

@iamthemob I don’t understand your last question

iamthemob's avatar

@lynneblundell – if you say something you find out was a slur, and you said it in public, I’m of the mind it should be corrected in public, regardless of how you might feel. If it’s corrected in private, then people who heard it might think it’s okay. That’s the premise for me for the last question. Of course, that’s my opinion.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@iamthemob I feel that there is a time and a place for such discussions when someone is in the wrong. In my example, had anyone interrupted the speaker to hold a sidebar discussion on what she said, it would have derailed the workshop. When we had a private conversation later on what was said, she wanted to call all of the participants to apologize. I told her it wasn’t necessary. I was probably wrong, but if she had, it would have been conducted one-on-one. Of the two that caught the faux pas and spoke up, there were probably others that heard it loud and clear and didn’t do anything about it. And there were probably a few that either had no idea of the meaning or did and just didn’t see anything wrong with it.

There have been a few times where I couldn’t bite my tongue, and it ensued a public discussion between those of us there.

iamthemob's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I see your point, but disagree – I feel that there’s always a way to discuss it. Finding that way in public arenas, however, can be very, very difficult.

YARNLADY's avatar

I did use words without knowing their bigoted meanings, but I stopped as soon as I found out.

iamthemob's avatar

@YARNLADY Like what? I’d like to know, as I might very well be doing the same thing…(of course, if you’d like to indicate the word rather than type it out, that would make sense).

ratboy's avatar

@iamthemob: I don’t need to know. If one is curious, he could visit Project Implicit at Harvard. I don’t believe that “gyp” carries any derogatory connotation, and this guy agrees with me.

iamthemob's avatar

True meaning and intent are separate from perception. That’s more what I’ve stated my personal concern about…and that’s why I would like to know.

cockswain's avatar

I once said during a v-ball game “oooh, a chink in the armor” when the other team finally made a mistake. The player that made the mistake was Asian.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@iamthemob Yes, a better way would have been for the workshop participant(s) to bring up their concern with the word’s use during a break, and then the trainer could have addressed it with the class before the workshop was over. Unfortunately, many people would rather spend a day at the dentist’s office than to confront another about their behavior.

iamthemob's avatar

@cockswain

I don’t see how what you said in and of itself was bad. Unfortunately timed to the extreme, surely…:-)

cockswain's avatar

Well yeah, I kind of have a lot of those moments. Like another time I saw a big black dude and said “wow, what a gorilla” before thinking at all.

nebule's avatar

@iamthemob I see. Well, I think the way you suggest the slur to be corrected is more of a form of punishment than righting any wrong that has been done. I think that it would be better practice to speak to the person about the matter in private and ask them to in turn speak to any of the people that they might have offended also in private. I think this way you are more likely to get genuine acts of morality rather than reactive ones.

iamthemob's avatar

Well, I think the way you suggest the slur to be corrected is more of a form of punishment than righting any wrong that has been done.

That assumes that it can’t be done delicately. I’ve seen it done both delicately and indelicately (self-righteously). But it can be done so it’s not a punishment, can’t it?

nebule's avatar

perhaps… can you give me an example of it being done delicately?

iamthemob's avatar

“When you say X, what do you mean?”

“Oh, you know…someone who does Y”

“I used that term to…then I found out it was connected to Z?”

“Really? I didn’t know…”

“Yeah, neither did I! I thought you should know because I know for a fact that’s not what you meant to say.”

….....Something like that.

YARNLADY's avatar

@iamthemob Jew somebody down = bargain down the price, Gipped out of something = cheated Indian Giver = gives gift and takes it back

Each of these is an insult to an ethnic group, but I heard it used in my family and had no idea it was demeaning to someone.

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